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Recent crime novels | 23 February 2008

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (MacLehose Press, £14.99, translated from the Swedish by Stephen Murray) is the first volume of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Larsson was a journalist who sadly died of a heart attack before publication. But the books are selling in their millions across Europe and, once you read the first of

Brave enough to say no

The first world war seemed like a good idea at the time. Cheering crowds thronged deliriously through the capitals of Europe as war was declared. In England the prospect of being paid to kill foreigners started a stampede to join up. Within five weeks almost 480,000 men had volunteered, many lying about their age. An

Earning an easy chair

If you were left a legacy by a friend would you tuck it away, blow it on art, or buy something for your home or the person you share it with? Notting Hill-based writer Duncan Fallowell decided to do what it says on the cover and go as far as he could. Why? ‘So that

Creating a climate of fear

At the outset of this rich, dense and polemical primer on the modern history of political violence Michael Burleigh has the good sense to define his terms. He describes terrorism as ‘a tactic primarily used by non-state actors, who can be an acephalous entity as well as a hierarchical organisation, to create a climate of

Too clever for her own good

‘I am sorry to say that the generality of women who have excelled in wit have failed in chastity,’ wrote Elizabeth Montagu in 1750, after looking over the memoirs of her contemporary, the witty Mrs Pilkington. Mrs Montagu, learned, respectable and rich, curled her lip at poor Laetitia Pilkington, who started writing for pure pleasure

Sins of omission

Readers are defined by what they don’t read as much as by what they do. George Moore shunned works of reference. ‘An encyclopedia in this house!’ he spluttered indignantly at the enquiry of a friend. Mark Twain was not an enthusiast of Emma and Pride and Prejudice. ‘The best way to start a library,’ he